The Virginia Department of Transportation is set to begin construction this spring for variable speed limits on Interstate 95 northbound between Caroline and Spotsylvania counties.
Crashes have occurred when northbound vehicles traveling at speed unexpectedly encounter stopped or slowing traffic flow due to congestion or lane closures for incidents and highway work zones, VDOT said.
New signs displaying variable speed limits between 35 mph and 65-70 mph will be paired with dynamic message boards along I-95 north between the 115 and 130 mile markers.
"Drivers will adjust their speed based on real-time information about delays and conditions on the road ahead," VDOT said in a news release. "Gradually slowing traffic as it approaches congestion will help to reduce the risk of crashes, and stop-and-go travel conditions.
Speed limits will be reduced only when necessary, VDOT said. Vehicle detectors will collect traffic speed and volume data, which will be fed into a software program to recognize when traffic is approaching unstable conditions (for example, very high volume and fast speed) and assign incrementally lower speeds.
Once traffic flow stabilizes, the posted speed limit will return to the maximum speed. Speeds can also be lowered manually by operators at VDOT’s Traffic Operations Center to create safer conditions in work zones, in weather events, and around traffic crashes.
Speed limits posted on variable equipment are enforceable just like regular speed limit signs, VDOT says. Enforcement authorities will have access to real-time changes in posted speed limits along the VSL corridor.
Variable speed limits were recommended for this section of I-95 northbound as part of the I-95 Corridor Improvement Plan. The $10.6 million project is expected to begin this fall.